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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.                                                419
now strike the eye unpleasantly, were intended as merely temporary
make-shifts, and, if I had been allowed the time, would gradually Iiare given
-way to something better; carved stone being everywhere substituted for plain
brick and mortar. The interior, with the important exception, of the High
Altar, is virtually complete, and is to my mind both religious and picturesque
in its effect. The external facade, as it now stands, conveys a very imperfect
idea of what it was meant to be. The building was intended as a protest
against the standard plans and other stereotyped conventionalities of the Public
Works Department; and it has at least the one great architectural merit of
being absolutely truthful; no one on seeing it but would immediately under-
stand that it was a Catholic Church, built in an eastern country for the use of
a mixed congregation of Europeans and orientals. As a proof that in some
quarters at all events my idea was thoroughly appreciated, I cannot resist the
pleasure of appending an extract from a letter which appeared in the correspon-
dence columns of the London Tablet, in its issue for October 26th, 1878 :—
" To Mr. E. S. Growse, of tlie Bengal Civil Services we owe am ecclesiastical building
which is quite unique of its sort in India, and may in the richness of its details compare favour-
ably with approved European workmanship. The munificence of tliat gentleman, combined with
rare artistic taste, has enabled him to cull all the rich treasures of a rich neighbourhood in the
service of religion. His knowledge of the district of which he is both the historian and the
renovator pre-eminently fitted Mm for this labour of love. Mathura chapel is a combination
of Christias and pagan art, and peculiarly interesting as the sole work of native artists, whose
chisels have certainly not diminished the beauty and solemnity associated with altar and sanc-
tuary. Finer or more elaborate carving coold not be seen anywhere. Men acquainted with the
delicate screen work of India will find it here for the first time engrafted on a Christian church,
conveying the solemnizing effect of stained glass. Eigidly adhering to the idea of employing
native art alone, Mr. Growse has to the smallest item excluded articles of exotic growth, substi-
tuting, for instance, Muradabad vases for the trumpery foreign importations so frequently seen
on other altars.
44 The remark of Mr. Pergusson that * Architecture In India is a living art* is nowhere
more happily illustrated than in the recent restorations of Mathura, a work also due to Mr. Growse.
Engaged in those restorations, the thought must naturally have arisen in connection with
English buildings, why employ English models, often alike incompatible with the climate and
genius of the people, when there are indigenous ones, and those far more beautiful, near at hand ?
Why disfigure the Oriental landscape with buildings aa incapable of appealing to the sympathies
of the people as of meeting the requirements of art and comfort ? Along, too, with considera-
tions about architecture would come the thought—why not employ Indian arts more generally?
*' It may be unorthodox to say so, but I confess the most sumptuous English fanes in India
communicate a very different impression to that communicated by a visit to the Fearl Mosque at
Agra. What that impression is any leader of Bi?hop Heber will easily understand. So great is
it, that one may be pardoned for wishing to impregnate an Indian Christian temple with some of
its distinctive features.